Research says red wine is good for your health – here’s why

Researchers from King’s College London say their new research shows red wine is good for your health. The findings suggest that red wine increases the number of different good bacteria in your gut, which improve general health.

The research team say that the benefits from red wine comes from the polyphenols present. These compounds are still present in cider, beer and white wine, but in much smaller quantities. They’re also found in many vegetables and fruit, which is why they’re so good for you.

Wine is good for your health, but how much should you drink?

Just one glass of red wine every two weeks is enough to make a positive difference to your gut health. The researchers say that it’s about limited quantities of the high levels of polyphenols.

Polyphenols are present in lots of plant foods. The micronutrients are full of antioxidants, which is why they offer health benefits. Current scientific thinking suggests that polyphenols can help improve digestive issues, help to manage weight, control diabetes and improve the prognosis for people suffering from cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disease.

The polyphenols present in red wine include resveratrol, which comes from the skin of the grapes. They are thought to act as fuel for the useful bacteria and microbes that live in the bowel.

Gut bacteria is essential for good health

Human guts are crammed with trillions of micro-organisms and bacteria. It’s these so-called ‘friendly’ bacteria that work to keep us healthy. A growing raft of research shows that tiny alterations to the microbiota in our gut can make us much more susceptible to illnesses. The common problems associated with this include irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, heart disease and mental health.

If we eat poor diets, have sedentary lifestyles or even take certain types of medication, it’s possible that the fine balance of our gut health can be destroyed. And that’s what leads to illnesses.

The King’s College London study on the possible health benefits of red wine was published in medical journal Gastroenterology. It studied thousands of people and their eating and drinking habits from all around the world. Participants from the Netherlands, the US and the UK, are all twins. During the study they reported on their diet, what they eat, what they drink and what type of alcohol they regularly ingest.

Red wine drinkers show diversity in gut bacteria

Red wine drinkers from the study showed much more diverse gut bacteria than those who drink other alcoholic drinks, or none at all. And the more red wine you drink, the more the good bugs multiply. However, the researchers say that none of the people studied are heavy drinkers.

Just one glass a week or a fortnight, depending on your gut makeup, is enough to reap the microbe advantages of red wine. Needless to say, heavy drinking is not encouraged by the research team. They warn that drinking too much red wine will have a poor effect not only on gut bacteria, but the overall health of the person.

As this is what’s called an ‘observational’ study, it does not prove red wine is good for the gut. However, it can be surmised that if you want to drink something, red wine is probably better for you and your health than other alcoholic drinks.

Researcher Dr Le Roy says that she wants to do further study on people drinking red wine or red grape juice without alcohol. She tells “Gut bacteria is complex, and we need more research. But we know that the more diversity there is, the better it appears to be for our health.”

Which wedding wines work best for celebrating?

What’s the must have wine for a bride and groom’s perfect day? Well, champagne or prosecco are good choices for the toast, but there are plenty of other choices away from the old favourites that generally include merlot and sauvignon blanc.


Of course, it does depend largely on the tastes and budget of the bride and groom, as well as the kind of event it’s going to be. The age group invited, and the size of the wedding also affects what you choose for your wedding wines.


Wedding wines don’t have to be boring


A smaller wedding of around 40 guests is always going to be easier to cater for in terms of wine than a bigger bash for 200. It’s also worth considering the kind of menu you’re offering. Many of today’s weddings offer a couple of different meals. For example, an evening buffet after the main wedding breakfast is served earlier in the day. Things like hog roasts and barbecues are increasingly popular too.


Much of the time, it’s about choosing what you enjoy and what you would normally want to drink. But if there’s any event worth splashing out a bit for, or making a statement, it’s a wedding.


Play it safe or take a chance?


The main decisions when it comes to choosing wedding wines is whether to play it safe or whether to take a bit of a risk. Safe would mean something like a mid-priced prosecco for toasts, along with a decent Chilean merlot and a cab sauv to go with the meal.


And while there is something to be said for getting something in that most people will be happy with, there’s nothing wrong with taking a few risks with wedding wines.


If possible, it can add a bit of interest to your wedding drinks menu if you ‘drink local’. This could mean sourcing wine from local vineyards, wineries, or beer from breweries. There are so many smaller, artisan breweries and vineyards across the UK now that there is plenty of choice. And if you’re having a destination wedding, even better.


Depending on your wedding venue, drinking local could net you something really special. For example, if you’re getting wed in the south of England, definitely get some English sparkling wine in instead of champagne or prosecco.


Choose wines you enjoy


For most people choosing wedding wines, it’s not just about getting nice wine, but also keeping the costs down. And while caterers or wedding organisers will always try and persuade you to take on their wine choices, it’s worth checking out whether you can similar wines for less money elsewhere.

However the wine is sourced, remember that it’s only a part of the big day. No-one is going to judge a wedding on whether the wine isn’t their favourite. As long as you get some decent tasting wine, people will be happy.

If you want to enjoy a really special, and very on-brand fizz, go for Bride Valley Brut Reserve. It’s from Dorset and is elegantly light, and with a name like that, what bride could resist? For a summer wedding, you can’t beat a delicate, fragrant rose, like Moonlight & Roses, which is a Coteaux d’Aix en Provence Rose 2018. It’s another romantically named, and stylishly packaged wine, with the classic flavours of a pale Provencal rose.

Why Bordeaux offers the ideal holiday for wine lovers

For wine lovers looking for an adventure, Bordeaux is up there with the best destinations in the world. Bordeaux is located in the south western region of France and is the perfect city to visit for vineyard visits, wine tasting tours and to buy wine.


The 18th century part of Bordeaux itself is listed by UNESCO World Heritage as ‘an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble’ and is worth visiting for its cultural offerings as well as its wine.


Ideal holiday for wine lovers and non-wine lovers


Entertainment in the city is varied and wide ranging. The National Opera of Bordeaux in the fabulous Grand Theatre located in the main square of the city is a great place to start. The theatre dates back to the 18th century and is a stunningly beautiful building, covered in ornate sculptures. More laid-back evening entertainment can be found at the many jazz and blues clubs in the city.


Visitors to Bordeaux should all take a trip to at least one vineyard, even if they are not all wine lovers. And for wine aficionados, the city and region form the ideal holiday destination.


Combining art and wine at historic vineyard


Next door to Bordeaux, in a city called Pauillac, there’s a vineyard that is definitely worth visiting. Chateaux Mouton Rothschild has been making high quality wine since the middle of the 19th century, and today hosts tastings, tours and has a wine museum on site. This vineyard combines art and wine for a cultural treat and offers plenty of wine tastings throughout the year.


After the sightseeing and vineyard visiting, it’s a must to visit one of the high-end restaurants in Bordeaux. Try Le Pressoir d’Argent, which is at the Le Grand Hotel. With two Michelin stars and a menu designed by super chef Gordon Ramsay, it’s the ideal way to finish off a trip to this historical and fascinating wine region.


Food options for every budget


If your budget doesn’t stretch quite that far, then you could take a train ride out of the centre of Bordeaux to Les Halles de Bacalan. This undercover food market boasts loads of delicious food options and has a very relaxed vibe. Just across the road from the market you can find La Cite du Vin museum, where you’ll find all sorts of information and fascinating displays about the region’s most famous export.


Bordeaux is easy to get to, with flights every day from London Gatwick run by Ryanair. Easyjet and British Airways. If you can afford five-star luxury, make sure you stay at Le Grand Hotel, which is right in the middle of the beautiful old part of the city. It’s located on the Place de la Comedie, and from the balcony of your room you’ll be able to see the Opera House across the square. The perfect place to enjoy a bottle of delicious wine from Bordeaux itself.

Where’s the ideal wine holiday destination? Montenegro

Wine lovers looking for a holiday destination with a difference should consider Montenegro. It may not be the first country you think of when planning a trip to wine country, but Montenegro boasts wines you just can’t find anywhere else.


Bordering Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo, Montenegro is located on the Adriatic coast. And for visitors interested in vineyard tours, it couldn’t be a better destination.


Montenegro is the ideal wine holiday


Montenegro is the perfect wine producing country thanks to its extremely fertile land and spot-on microclimate. Thank to the latter, it’s one of the sunniest countries on the Adriatic, and the sunshine lasts all year round.


Eco Resort Cermeniza is one of the vineyards open to visitors. Nestling among the hills surrounding a small fishing village called Virpazar, the vineyard is close to the biggest lake in southern Europe – Lake Skadar. The family-owned vineyard has been producing wines for more than four centuries. Vines that have been producing the local vranac grape for more than hundred years still continue to do so.


The vranac grape is related to the newer Italian primitivo. Not only that, but vranac is also the precursor to the zinfandel grape. Wine has been made in Montenegro for a few thousand years, using the vranac grape to make rich ruby reds spliced with berries.


Local, ancient vineyards offer tours


Another vineyard worth visiting is the Radevic vineyard, which is relatively near to the capital city of Podgorica. It mainly makes French wines and is run by a husband and wife team called Goran and Renee Radevic.


Their wines include cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, syrah and a rosé. They have won various awards for their wine, and also make a white port from the grapes in their vineyard, which goes back 26 generations into winemaking history. The couple host vineyard tours at their winemaking site, and export their wine to buyers in France, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Germany.

The biggest vineyard in Montenegro is Plantaze, which exports wine to around 40 countries. They specialise in purple vranac, which is a very heavy, sweet, rich wine, ideal to go with the meaty stews that remain a specialty of the region.


To finish a wine tour of Montenegro, head down to Herceg Novi on the south western coastline of the country. Situated just above the Bay of Kotor, a vineyard called Castel Savina is ideally placed for wine tasting while taking in the beautiful view.

What is fortified wine, and should you try it?

If you’re a wine lover, you may stick to tried and tested favourites, or you might be willing to try pretty much anything. But have you tried fortified wine? And what exactly is it?

Fortified wine is differentiated from regular wine as it contains a distilled spirit. This can be brandy, whisky or others, and gives the wine a unique flavour. It’s also higher in alcohol and has more sugar than normal wine.

Why was fortified wine first made?

The idea behind fortified wine was originally to prevent it spoiling by upping its alcohol. Before modern refrigeration it was much more difficult to stop all kinds of produce from getting spoiled, including wine. It is fermented, which is a process that converts the grapes’ sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol.

During this process, the distilled spirit is added at different times. This boosts the amount of alcohol in the wine and alters the flavour. If the spirit is added to the wine before fermentation is complete, the end result is much sweeter. If the spirit is added after the process is finished, it will be a drier end product.

Both dry and sweet fortified wines are traditionally served before or after meals as aperitifs or digestifs. They’re thought to stimulate the appetite and help digestion, which is why they assumed these roles over the years. Other types are commonly used in cooking to add extra flavour to dishes.

Types of fortified wine

The most common types of fortified wine include Port, Sherry, Vermouth, Marsala and Madeira. You’ve probably heard of all of these, but do you know the difference between them?

  • Port wine originally came from Portugal, although it’s now made everywhere. Before the wine finishes the fermentation process, brandy is added, which gives a rich, sweet flavour.
  • Sherry comes in lots of different kinds, depending on the grapes used. Traditionally dry, it can also be sweetened and serves as a dessert wine.
  • Madeira originally hailed from the Madeira Islands in Portugal. It is oxidised and heated, with brandy added at different times during the fermentation process.
  • Marsala is fortified with spirits after fermentation, leading to its unique, dry flavour.
  • Vermouth is available in both sweet and dry versions and is a fortified white, flavoured with different herbs and spices. These include cinnamon and cloves but differ according to the brand. It’s the main ingredients of famous cocktails, including Martinis and Manhattans.
Fortified wine is higher in sugar and alcohol

Fortified wine has high levels of antioxidants, which are thought to protect against cell damage, and help fight some diseases. It is, however, higher in calories than normal wine. For example, Sherry contains almost twice as many calories as red wine, but as it’s served in smaller quantities than wine, this doesn’t necessarily cause a problem.

It also has higher levels of alcohol than normal wine, due to the addition of the distilled spirits. Fortified wines generally contain around 20% alcohol, while regular wine hovers between 10% and 15%.